Thursday Briefing: Japan’s Leader Visits Washington

President Biden and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida celebrated the U.S.-Japan relationship.Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

The U.S. hosted Japan’s prime minister

President Biden welcomed Fumio Kishida, Japan’s leader, for a state visit yesterday in Washington. A few hours after we send this newsletter, the two will sit down for a state dinner in Kishida’s honor, a distinction the U.S. reserves for only its closest allies.

The ceremony was meant to show Japan’s importance to the U.S. It’s all part of a broader regional outreach intended to counter China, which included recent war games with South Korea. Later today, both will meet with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines for talks that represent a more aggressive effort by the U.S. and its allies to isolate China.

Biden and Kishida announced a range of moves to enhance military, economic and other kinds of cooperation. Biden said the U.S. and Japan would create an expanded defense architecture with Australia, participate in military exercises with Britain and explore ways for Japan to join a U.S.-led coalition with Australia and New Zealand. He also said the U.S. would include a Japanese astronaut on a trip to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

Officials also said that Biden is trying to solidify the U.S.-Japan relationship as much as possible before the election in November. Many in both Washington and Tokyo are worried that Donald Trump, whose unpredictability had kept many world leaders on edge, could return to power.

A steel deal: Looming over the state visit isBiden’s opposition to a $14 billion bid byNippon Steel, a Japanese corporation, to acquire the Pennsylvania-based U.S. Steel. Union workers in the state are against the deal, and their votes will be crucial to Biden’s re-election bid.

The state dinner: There will be a stylized California roll and steak with sesame sabayon on the menu for the official meal, with a “bounty of spring” theme. Paul Simon will perform.

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